CHICAGO – Governor Quinn today signed major legislation that requires public and private school districts to provide catastrophic accident insurance for high school students who are injured while participating in school-sponsored or supervised athletic events. Known as “Rocky’s Law,” this legislation was inspired by Rasul “Rocky” Clark, who passed away in 2012 after injuries sustained during a high school football game in 2000 had left him paralyzed. Governor Quinn made Rocky’s Law a top healthcare priority this session.
“Rocky Clark was a fighter, and this new law – Rocky’s Law – is a tribute to him and all the years he fought to protect young athletes across our state,” Governor Quinn said. “Rocky is an inspiration to us all and he wanted to ensure other students are educated about playing it safe on the field. I am honored to sign this bill, which should provide more comfort to sports families across Illinois.”
Senate Bill 2178, sponsored by Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Flossmoor) and Representative Will Davis (D-Hazel Crest), requires that school districts purchase catastrophic insurance for their student athletes.
Rocky was tackled in a high school football game in 2000 and suffered two broken vertebrae and a significant spinal cord injury that left him a quadriplegic. His school, Eisenhower High School in South Suburban Blue Island, had insurance that covered up to $5 million or ten years. Rocky required constant care post-injury and received that care from around-the-clock nurses at his home. Clark passed away last year, surrounded by family and friends, having been remembered for his strength, courage, and will to help others.
“We have an obligation to the memory of Rocky Clark to protect student-athletes and their families from the devastating long-term effects of catastrophic injury,” said Representative Davis. “With this law, we can continue to encouraging participation in high school athletics, while providing necessary protections for schools, for families and most importantly for kids like Rocky.”
”God bless Governor Pat Quinn, Representative Will Davis, and Senator Napoleon Harris for getting Senate Bill 2178 passed and now signed,” said Annette Clark, Rocky’s mother. “This is an important step to protect student athletes."
The new law requires all public and private high-schools to provide catastrophic accident insurance coverage for those injuries that happen in school-sponsored or supervised athletic events that result in medical expenses over $50,000. According to the law, the policies must have collective limits of $3 million or five years, whichever occurs first. This coverage is in addition to any and all other insurance, and the estimated cost of this coverage will be no more than $5 per student.
The new law also allows public elementary and middle school districts provide accident and health insurance coverage for students injured while participating in school-sponsored athletic activities during Kindergarten through 8th grade.
Rocky’s Law will take effect on January 1, 2014.